We are blessed here in Medina County to have a recycling program in place where we don’t need to separate (most) of our recycling. It happens automatically (for us), at the Medina County Recycling Center.
Every garbage truck is required to take its haul to the center, which sorts out the metal, some plastics and paper from the food scraps and other material destined for the landfill.
It’s a great system that means this county gets 100 percent participation from its residents and businesses. Few counties can say that.
The downside, though, is that we can be very casual about recycling. We don’t have to examine the bottoms of the cans or milk jugs to make sure they are marked with the right number to go into the bin in order for them to be recycled.
(Although, I learned today that the Recycling Center does encourage us to put all steel food and aluminum cans (rinsed, not crushed), plastic bottles (Nos. 1 and 2, caps removed, rinsed and crushed), food boxes (wax liners removed, flattened) and junk mail or school papers into a single, separate refuse bag.)
I worry that our kids might not appreciate the need to recycle, or know how to do it, even though “recycling” is widely praised everywhere you turn.
Consequently, we make a point to set aside our glass jars and bottles to take, ourselves, to one of 10 sites around the county where the white, green and brown “igloos” are located to accept glass. For a list of locations, click here.
I want my kids to actively participate in recycling so it becomes a habit on which they could expand when they eventually live outside the county (sniff, sniff!).
We do the same with those plastic grocery bags that seem to multiply like rabbits, because our recycling center does not sort and recycle them. I try to use the nice supply of cloth market bags I have accumulated, but often I don’t remember to bring them with me into the store, or I leave them at home. Most of the grocery stores in Medina have a bin near the entrance to collect the plastic bags, and every couple of weeks we haul our stash to the bin.
But, did you know that you can put more than the store bags in those collection bins? My husband used to think you had to return Giant Eagle bags to Giant Eagle. Thankfully it’s much more generous than that.
According to a website run by Ziploc brand bags, you can put the following items in those bins:
Ziploc® brand Bags (clean and dry)
Plastic grocery bags
Plastic retail bags
Bread bags and produce bags
Toilet paper, napkin and paper-towel wraps
Plastic shipping envelopes
All clean bags labeled #2 or #4
In fact, Plasticfilmrecycling.org says that the majority of plastic bags are readily recyclable as long as they are clean and dry. The site adds bubble wrap and air-cushion packaging material to the “OK to recycle” list.
I am quite surprised by this knowledge and am eager to start a bag in the garage to collect all of the plastic we go through. Even though we try to use sandwich containers instead of baggies and so forth, there is inevitably a lot of plastic on that list that goes in our trash each week.
(Note: the Medina County Recycling Center’s website also asks in bold letters that we NOT use the “no-rip” style of garbage bags — probably because they stymie the machines that rip open trash bags at the center to begin to separate their contents.)
The trick to recycling the plastic will be remembering to take it to the collection bin on a regular basis so it doesn’t pile up in the garage.
If we do that, we can make a difference in the amount that piles up in the landfill.